How to ‘cut’ your pitch shots, like players were required to do at fire-breathing Bay Hill

When conditions get difficult on the course, sometimes players need to shape their pitch shots around the greens.

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If you watched the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the weekend, you saw a tournament played under U.S. Open-like conditions. The winds were swirling, the rough was gnarly and the greens were firm and fast. It made for a prime viewing experience and misery for those who had to play through it.

Bay Hill was a battlefield in a war of attrition. Pars came with a sigh of relief and big numbers lurked with every mis-hit shot. Gary Woodland summed it up best when he came off the course following a bruising final-round 73.

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“I’m glad I’m off that golf course,” he said. “I’m glad I’m done.”

It was that type of week in Orlando. And with the conditions so difficult, players were forced to use every shot in their bags — especially around the greens. Standard driving-range chips and pitches were largely ineffective.

Sometimes, reaching those tough-to-reach hole locations required shaping the ball — even on pitches inside 75 yards. It’s a high-level play, but one that is required when playing a brute of a course like Bay Hill. GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jonathan Yarwood shared a video over the weekend explaining the technique behind these shots so you can add it to your arsenal as well.

“Imagine the flag is 12 o’clock on the clock face,” Yarwood says. “Aim your body at 11 o’clock.”

With a slightly open setup, you now want to set up the clubface behind the ball. But instead of having the face square to the target, open it up just slightly.

Stand closer to the ball than you would on a normal pitch, and pull the handle of the club down and toward your lead knee.

“From this setup, I’ve got no choice but to lift the club up and away from me,” he says. “But then the key move from here is feeling like the left pocket keeps moving, the ribs keep moving, the belt buckle keeps moving — so the handle gets pulled sharply left. It almost feels like I’m pulling the handle into my pocket.”

By releasing the club to the left, you’re effectively cutting across the ball through impact. And as long as you keep the clubface open and don’t roll it shut, you should create cut spin that will work the ball from left to right.

“It increases spin as well if you really rip your body open,” he says. “It’s a great shot to have in your bag.”

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.

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